Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Hillary's Nixon Moment

Will that dreadful woman never go away? She had already lost, but she didn’t concede last night in the sub- sub- basement of a Baruch College building in New York; if anything, she implied she’d fight on and on. How? She asked her voters to send in their suggestions -- recalling Nixon’s Checkers Speech, as at least one pundit old enough to remember observed. If that wasn’t pitiful enough, she did her best to steal the headlines too – on a day when, for the first time in American history, a black man won the nomination of a major party -- by suggesting her willingness to be his VP. Now is the time for all good women and men to tell the Obama campaign, in no uncertain terms, NO. No nightmare ticket! Obama needs a running mate to his left; someone who will tap into progressive white rage. What he does not need is an opportunist War Democrat and corporate flunky who taps into regressive white racism and the resentments of age.

If there’s a difference from Nixon, it’s that Hillary’s diehard supporters evince at least as much self-pity as the candidate herself. Let Obama and the Party Elders appease them, if they feel they must; the rest of us, the once and future victims of Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Bush politics, need not go along.

That politics comes in a competent version; Hillary (clearly) and Barack Obama (probably) are its most prominent, current representatives, along with almost the entire Democratic caucus in the House and Senate. We also have a doddering, brain dead version now represented by John McCain. Thanks to George Bush’s and Dick Cheney’s incompetence, we are now at a critical conjuncture – where the Democratic version, what I call “Clintonism,” can finally be overcome – despite massive resistance from the party’s leaders. But this will only happen if we push Obama and the others hard enough. Obama’s victory in the primaries, now accomplished, was an indispensable step in that larger struggle; the next, absolutely necessary step is to kick Hillary and Bill off the stage altogether. Let the day come – sooner, not later -- that we not have those wretched Clintons to kick around any more.

Remember, though: Just a few years after Nixon said we wouldn’t have him to kick around, he was back. Then he went on to do incalculable harm. We must act now to insure that in four, eight, or a dozen years nothing like that happens again.

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